Five Variables Defining Our Future
IN FOCUS, 5 Feb 2024
In the late 1930s, with WWII in motion, and only months before his assassination, Leon Trotsky already had a vision of what the future Empire of Chaos would be up to.
25 Jan 2024 – “For Germany it was a question of ‘organizing Europe’. The United States must ‘organize’ the world. History is bringing mankind face to face with the volcanic eruption of US imperialism… Under one or another pretext and slogan the United States will intervene in the tremendous clash in order to maintain its world dominion.”
We all know what happened next. Now we are under a new volcano that even Trotsky could not have identified: a declining United States faced with the Russia-China “threat”. And once again the entire planet is affected by major moves in the geopolitical chessboard.
The Straussian neocons in charge of US foreign policy could never accept Russia-China leading the way towards a multipolar world. For now we have NATO’s perpetual expansionism as their strategy to debilitate Russia, and Taiwan as their strategy to debilitate China.
Yet in these past two years, the vicious proxy war in Ukraine only accelerated the transition towards a multipolar, Eurasia-driven world order.
With the indispensable help of Prof. Michael Hudson, let’s briefly recap the 5 key variables that are conditioning the current transition.
Losers Don’t Dictate Terms
- The stalemate: That’s the new, obsessive US narrative on Ukraine – on steroids. Confronted with the upcoming, cosmic NATO humiliation in the battlefield, the White House and the State Dept. had to – literally – improvise.
Moscow though is unfazed. The Kremlin has set the terms a long time ago: total surrender, and no Ukraine as part of NATO. To “negotiate”, from the Russia point of view, is to accept these terms.
And if the deciding powers in Washington opt for turbo-charging the weaponization of Kiev, or to unleash “the most heinous provocations in order to change the course of events”, as asserted this week by the head of the SVR, Sergey Naryshkin, fine.
The road ahead will be bloody. In case the usual suspects sideline popular Zaluzhny and install Budanov as the head of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the AFU will be under total control of the CIA – and not NATO generals, as it’s still the case.
This might prevent a military coup against the sweaty sweatshirt puppet in Kiev. Yet things will get much uglier. Ukraine will go Total Guerrilla, with only two objectives: to attack Russian civilians and civilian infrastructure. Moscow, of course, is fully aware of the dangers.
Meanwhile, chatterbox overdrive in several latitudes suggest that NATO may even be getting ready for a partition of Ukraine. Whatever form that might take, losers do not dictate conditions: Russia does.
As for EU politicos, predictably, they are in total panic, believing that after mopping up Ukraine, Russia will become even more of a “threat” to Europe. Nonsense. Not only Moscow couldn’t give a damn to what Europe “thinks”; the last thing Russia wants or needs is to annex Baltic or Eastern European hysteria. Moreover, even Jens Stoltenberg admitted “NATO sees no threat from Russia toward any of its territories.”
- BRICS: Since the start of 2024, this is The Big Picture: the Russian presidency of BRICS+ – which translates as a particle accelerator towards multipolarity. The Russia-China strategic partnership will be increasing actual production, in several fields, while Europe plunges into depression, unleashed by the Perfect Storm of sanctions blowback against Russia and German de-industrialization. And it’s far from over, as Washington is also ordering Brussels to sanction China across the spectrum.
As Prof. Michael Hudson frames it, we are right in the middle of “the whole split of the world and the turning towards China, Russia, Iran, BRICS”, united in “an attempt to reverse, undo, and roll back the whole colonial expansion that’s occurred over the last five centuries.”
Or, as Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov defined at the UN Security Council this process of BRICS leaving Western bullies behind, the changing world order is like “a playground scuffle – which the West is losing.”
Bye Bye, Soft Power
- The Lone Emperor: The “stalemate” – actually losing a war – is directly linked to its compensation: the Empire squeezing and shrinking a vassalized Europe. But even as you exercise nearly total control over all these relatively wealthy vassals, you lose the Global South, for good: if not all their leaders, certainly the overwhelming majority of public opinion. The icing in the toxic cake is to support a genocide followed by the whole planet in real time. Bye bye, soft power.
- De-dollarization: All across the Global South, they did the math: if the Empire and its EU vassals can just steal over $300 billion in Russian foreign reserves – from a top nuclear/military power – they can do it to anyone, and they will.
The key reason Saudi Arabia, now a BRICS 10 member, is being so meek on the genocide in Gaza is because their hefty US dollar reserves are hostage to the Hegemon.
And yet the caravan moving away from the US dollar will only keep growing in 2024: that will depend on crucial crossover deliberations inside the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) and BRICS 10.
- Garden and jungle: What Putin and Xi have essentially been telling the Global South – including the energy-rich Arab world – is quite simple. If you want improved trade and economic growth, who’re you gonna link to?
So we’re back to the “garden and jungle” syndrome – first coined by imperial Britain orientalist Rudyard Kipling. Both the British concept of “white man’s burden” and the US concept of “Manifest Destiny” derive from the “garden and jungle” metaphor.
NATOstan, and hardly all of it, is supposed to be the garden. The Global South is the jungle. Michael Hudson again: as it stands, the jungle is growing, but the garden isn’t growing “because its philosophy is not industrialization. Its philosophy is to make monopoly rents, meaning rents that you make in your sleep without producing value. You just have a privilege of a right to collect money on a monopoly technology that you have.”
The difference now, compared to all those decades ago of an imperial free lunch, is “an immense shift of technological advance”, away from North America and the US, to China, Russia and selected nodes across Asia.
Forever Wars–And No Plan B
If we combine all these variants – stalemate; BRICS; the Lone Emperor; de-dollarization; garden and jungle – in search of the most probable scenario ahead, it’s easy to see that the only “way out” for a cornered Empire is, what else, the default modus operandi: Forever Wars.
And that brings us to the current US aircraft carrier in West Asia, totally out of control yet always supported by the Hegemon, aiming for a multi-front war against the whole Axis of Resistance: Palestine, Hezbollah, Syria, Iraqi militias, Ansarullah in Yemen, and Iran.
In a sense we’re back to the immediate post-9/11, when what the neocons really wanted was not Afghanistan, but the invasion of Iraq: not only to control the oil (which in the end they didn’t) but, in Michael Hudson’s analysis, “to essentially create US foreign legion in the form of ISIS* and al-Qaeda** in Iraq.” Now, “USA has two armies that it’s using to fight in the Near East, the ISIS*/al-Qaeda** foreign legion (Arabic-speaking foreign legion) and the Israelis.”
Hudson’s intuition of ISIS* and Israel as parallel armies is priceless: they both fight the Axis of Resistance, and never (italics mine) fight each other. The Straussian neocon plan, as tawdry as it gets, essentially is a variant of the “fight to the last Ukrainian”: to “fight to the last Israeli” on the way to the Holy Grail, which is to bomb, bomb, bomb Iran (copyright John McCain) and provoke regime change.
As much as the “plan” did not work in Iraq or Ukraine, it won’t work against the Axis of Resistance.
What Putin, Xi and Raisi have been explaining to the Global South, explicitly or in quite subtle ways, is that we are right in the crux of a civilizational war.
Michael Hudson has done a lot to bring down such an epic struggle to practical terms. Are we heading towards what I described as techno-feudalism – which is the AI format of rent-seeking turbo-neoliberalism? Or are we heading to something similar to the origins of industrial capitalism?
Michael Hudson characterizes an auspicious horizon as “raising living standards instead of imposing IMF financial austerity on the dollar block”: devising a system that Big Finance, Big Bank, Big Pharma and what Ray McGovern memorably coined as the MICIMATT (military-industrial-congressional-intelligence-media-academia-think tank complex) cannot control. Alea jacta est.
* ISIS (also known as ISIL/IS) is a terrorist group banned in Russia.
** A terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.
Pepe Escobar, born in Brazil, is a correspondent and editor-at-large at Asia Times and columnist for Consortium News and Strategic Culture in Moscow. Since the mid-1980s he’s lived and worked as a foreign correspondent in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Singapore, and Bangkok. He has extensively covered Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia to China, Iran, Iraq and the wider Middle East. He is the author of Globalistan (2007), Red Zone Blues (2007), Obama Does Globalistan (2009), Empire of Chaos (2014) and 2030 (2015), all by Nimble Books. Pepe was contributing editor to The Empire and The Crescent and Tutto in Vendita in Italy and is also associated with the Paris-based European Academy of Geopolitics. When not on the road he lives between Paris and Bangkok.
Tags: Anti-hegemony, Anti-imperialism, BRICS, Germany, RBIO-Rules Based Internationa Order, State Terrorism, USA, World
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